Autumn has officially arrived in Philadelphia and with the annual changing of the leaves this month comes the return of November’s cocktail festivals, film festivals, cultural and Veterans Day events and the start of a lot of holiday fun.
As we transition from fall and move closer to the holidays, get your scream on one last time at Terror Behind the Walls and start your Christmas shopping early in the same week at the opening of Christmas in Peddler’s Village.
Speaking of the holidays, this week brings the kickoff of two huge holiday attractions in Philadelphia: the Franklin Square Holiday Festival opens Thursday, November 9 and the Dilworth Park Wintergarden debuts Friday, November 10.
Elsewhere, stargaze at Night Skies in the Observatory at The Franklin Institute, experience amazing films at The Asian American Film Festival and Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival, or cheer on riders while you enjoy delicious beer and food at Cyclocross at Sly Fox Brewery.
Honor our veterans at Veterans Day Weekend at the Museum of the American Revolution, or Veterans Day with Free Admission at National Constitution Center.
Our top picks for the week, chronologically, below.
Last Chance: Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary
The country's biggest haunted house is a prison, actually. The famous, shuttered, Gothic former fortress that is Eastern State Penitentiary hosts Terror Behind the Walls, a nationally renowned fright fest. Guests can achieve the perfect level of fright at six attractions, including the new-for-2017 Blood Yard. Purchasing tickets in advance online is suggested.
Broadway Philadelphia: The Phantom of the Opera at the Academy of Music
First Person Arts Festival
Every November, folks from all walks of life come together to share their stories on stage during the First Person Arts Festival. This year, the festival spans 14 days and brings a dozen different storytelling-themed shows to check out. Participants include Margaret Cho, Maria Bamford, Hari Kondabolu and more.
Mural Arts Monument Lab
Temporary monuments by more than 20 local and international artists have popped up in public spaces all around the city, challenging viewers to think about representations of our history, memory and future. Organized by Mural Arts Philadelphia, Monument Lab includes interactive laboratories to encourage conversation and a hub at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, which displays public monument proposals generated during the run.
Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival
The Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival brings nearly 30 films from a dozen different countries around the world for a two-week festival designed to highlight human diversity and commonality. Screenings are held at venues citywide and span a wide range of genres, connected by a thread of Jewish culture, heritage and history.
One of the most interactive circuses in the world, UniverSoul Circus returns to Fairmount Park for its 21st season here in Philly. Look forward to a diverse selection of circus-oriented acts, such as contortionists from Guinea, acrobats from Ethiopia, a clown trio from Detroit, dancers from the Caribbean and animal acts from Mexico.
The more-than monthlong CraftNOW Philadelphia returns for its third year to showcase the work of the many talented and hardworking craftsman in and around Philadelphia. This year's theme, “Fluid Boundaries,” highlights how contemporary craft practices intersect with other disciplines such as the fine arts and design. Nine signature events take place throughout the five week festival to celebrate the area's rich crafting community.
Terracotta Warriors of the First Emperor at The Franklin Institute
The Franklin Institute's dramatic Terracotta Warriors of the First Emperor exhibition reveals the secrets behind the 2,000-year-old army of clay statues that guarded the tomb of China's first emperor until their discovery in 1974. The Franklin Institute is the only East Coast stop for this monumental exhibition. It's just one of more than 30 excellent exhibitions open in the city this fall.
Manayunk Cocktail Week
Tie on your out-on-the-town shoes for a walk down Main Street in Manayunk because Manayunk Cocktail Week delivers reasons to go out every night — think happy hours, tastings, cocktail competitions, dinner pairings and parties at neighborhood bars and restaurants and more.
Night Skies in the Observatory at the Franklin Institute
The Franklin Institute's monthly observatory series is back! Gaze into space and the cosmos through a world-class telescope at The Franklin Institute. The Franklin Institute's Chief Astronomer Derrick Pitts will be onhand to help you see stars, planets, nebulae and beyond.
Drake Night - So Far Gone at The Fillmore
Toronto's native son Drake is the cause for celebration once a month at Drake Night - So Far Gone. An event that has quickly become one of the biggest monthly parties in Philly, Drake Night is hosted by Mad Decent's Dirty South Joe and features lady DJ's Gun$ Garcia and Magglezzz dropping hip-hop hits until midnight and then nothing but Drake songs afterward.
Pennsylvania Ballet: On Edge
Dance down to the Merriam Theater and see the Pennsylvania Ballet perform On Edge, a program of three ballets by three different choreographers that challenge the borders of classical ballet: a world premiere by Helen Pickett, new work from Choreographer in Residence Matthew Neenan, and Episode 31 by Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman.
Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival
Beginning this week, the Asian American Film Festival kicks off with an exciting slate of films screening at venues across the city. The festival spotlights works by Asian filmmakers from around the world, starring Asian actors in leading roles, and about subjects pertaining to Asian culture and includes narrative fiction films, documentaries, shorts programs and live performances. There are several screenings that are free to the public.
Franklin Square Holiday Festival featuring the Electrical Spectacle Grand Opening
Festive lights, winter treats and holiday cheer fill historic Franklin Square for its all-ages (and completely free!) holiday festival and light show, kicking off for the season this week. The main feature is the Electrical Spectacle light show, which utilizes thousands and thousands of twinkling lights and a dynamic holiday soundtrack. The seasonal outdoor attraction rounds out the ongoing festivities with a winter beer garden, seasonal eats from SquareBurger, Lightning Bolt Holiday Express train rides around the square and a handful of other fun-filled events. Other festivities include Saturdays with Santa, rides on the holiday train and carousel.
Christmas in Peddler’s Village Opening
With more than 70 specialty shops and eight restaurants, Peddler’s Village in beautiful Bucks County is perfect for holiday shopping. The Village often offers extended shopping hours throughout the holiday season, which allows for even more time to take in the area's beautiful, festive decorations.
Veterans Day Weekend at the Museum of the American Revolution
Visit the Museum of the American Revolution this week to commemorate veterans. On Friday, November, 10, celebrate the Marine Corps birthday and on Saturday, November 11, mark Veterans Day with free admission to veterans Friday through Sunday as well as special programs and activities.
Dilworth Park Wintergarden Grand Opening
The heart of Center City surrounds itself with holiday popups, including the spectacular Dilworth Park Wintergarden with its Rothman Institute Ice Rink and Rothman Institute Cabin. Opening this week for the 2017-2018 season, enjoy ice-skating, skate rentals, twinkling lights, an indoor space to warm up and fill up on snacks, beer and hot drinks, along with the free-to-enter America’s Garden Capital Maze, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s living labyrinth of seasonal plants and lights. Plus, look out for an animated light show on the facade of City Hall, the Deck the Hall Light Show presented by Independence Blue Cross.
Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show
The Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, the annual centerpiece of CraftNOW Philadelphia, returns to the Pennsylvania Convention Center from November 9 to 12. The show features nearly 200 of the top craft artists in the nation, selected from more than 1,000 applicants. All work displayed will be available for purchase.
Men’s College Basketball: Villanova vs. Columbia at the Wells Fargo Center
Local men's college basketball powerhouse Villanova kicks off its 2017-18 season at the Wells Fargo Center. Enjoy one of three games at the Wells Fargo Center this season featuring the #6-ranked Wildcats as they take on Columbia University's Lions.
International Science Center & Science Museum Day at The Franklin Institute
Head to The Franklin Institute for a free day of programming in celebration of the 2017 International Science Center & Science Museum Day, designed to promote sustainability and environmental responsibility. Get hands-on doing building design with K’nex and Keva Planks, engage in live shows about climate change, and much more.
Veterans Day with Free Admission at National Constitution Center
Honor the service and sacrifice of our veterans on Veterans Day with free admission to the National Constitution Center. Special events include patriotic concerts, a wreath laying ceremony, chats with veterans and engaging civic education programs. Also, look for activities like writing thank-you letters to veterans, making patriotic crafts, folding the flag and marching drills.
Cyclocross at Sly Fox Brewery
Rain or shine, it’s time for the annual Sly Fox Cycloross. Take on a challenging course of dirt, grass, pavement and obstacles as a rider, or cheer on the riders on the course from the comfort of the Sly Fox beer garden. The suds will be flowing and a full food menu will make you anything but cross.
Unity Cup Championship Game
Established by Mayor Jim Kenney in 2016, sponsored by Goya, and facilitated by the Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation, the wildly popular Philadelphia International Unity Cup is an annual World-Cup-style soccer tournament created to promote support, inclusion, and appreciation for Philadelphia’s immigrant communities. This week, the months-long series celebrates its grand finale with a free championship match on Saturday, November 11 at Lincoln Financial Field between Teams Liberia and Sierra Leone. Free tickets will be available on site at Lincoln Financial Field, near the Northeast entrance gate, or spectators can request advanced tickets online now through close of business on Monday, November 6.
Last Day: Big Bling
The view along the Schuylkill River just keep getting better, with yet another addition to the array of outdoor artwork that compliments its wooded trails. Big Bling, the 40-foot-tall abstract work by Martin Puryear along the Schuylkill River, has fascinated viewers for months now. This weekend is your last chance to see the massive structure in all its golden glory.